Legacy can transcend the bounds of time-place-space.
Legacy can be transmitted through a fig. Or a raspberry.
Legacy goes in all directions, is deeply, fundamentally relational, and encompasses much more than mere material resources.
By “all directions,” I mean that legacy is trans- and inter-generational and not exclusively about transmission of something important to younger generations from older generations. Legacy can be transmitted in the other direction, as well, and in all directions at once.
By “fundamentally relational,” I mean that the creation of legacy happens in the context of cultivated, on-going relationships (And between both the “living” and the “no-longer-living”; that is, a member of a legacy-creating relationship may no longer be alive but still very present and influential to others, such as the role my friend Fred plays in my life); it is an expression of deep, consequential connections between humans.
By “encompasses much more than mere material resources,” I am pushing back at the perennial idea that legacy should be primarily about the transmission from elders to “youngers” of material resources: money, property, possessions.
A larger-mind view of legacy is that it is about intentionally creating the conditions necessary for a vital present and future life for not only our family members and other closest-in people, but for all living creatures. As such, members of multiple generations traveling through the life course simultaneously join together to pass-around (rather than pass-down) resources. These resources certainly may be material in the traditional sense of legacy – money, property, possessions – but also ethical, intellectual, spiritual and emotional (for example, “ethical wills,” spiritual traditions, creative projects, family traditions and practices).
Legacy may entail carrying on the traditions and practices of another person who is no longer living (or perhaps whom we never met in person but only through stories told about them), as well as adopting – embodying and enacting – their quintessential characteristics or commitments: a particular habit-of-speech, a jaunty hat they always wore, or their singular role in a larger system. In this way, the special person continues to exist but in a different form, and we are forever changed – and changing — because of our relationship with them.
Lastly, a larger trans-personal view of legacy encompasses non-human creatures, the planet, and our universe, as well as future humans whom we’ll not know because we will no longer be living, but for whom we care nonetheless (and who may someday in the future learn and care about us, their ancestors, as well.).
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